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Christians attacked in Egyptian village after opening of new church

Middle East and North Africa

Christians attacked in Egyptian village after opening of new church

Photo credit: watinet.com

Local Muslims pelted stones at the homes of Christians in an Egyptian village the day after the Christian community had held the first service in their new church building.

The attackers were urged on by calls from mosque loudspeakers in the village of Samalout, Minya south of Cair on 10 December.

Police shut down the church and confiscated the building’s keys hours after its opening and officials later also cut off the water and electricity.

Despite the 2,500 Christians in Samalout having no church, local Muslims responded to the attempt to open a potential place of worship with violence.

Mosque loudspeakers rallied the local population against the church and the Christians in the village. Throughout Sunday 10 December Christian property was attacked by mobs hurling stones and shouting “Allahu Akbar”. The violence continued until Monday morning when the police arrived and detained many Christians and Muslims, tightening security over the whole village.

The Egyptian government is gradually rolling out a licensing programme for churches to apply for legal government recognition. While many have signed up and over 500 have now been registered, thousands still wait for approval and even those who achieve it face potential violence from local Muslims who oppose the official recognition of churches in their communities.